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Headscratchers / Divergent

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  • The Bureau keeps track of the lineage of every person in the Chicago experiment, and marks the factions with letters. Since A is used for Abnegation, what's the marker for Amity?
    • AM, maybe? As if those two factions needed to be any more similar...
      • Given the other groupings are Candor, Dauntless, Erudite and Factionless, why no B word like 'Benevolent' rather than two A words?
      • Possibly is was group B, and the Amity people change the name on a regular basis because their hat is bickering over everything democratically? Seems like a faction defined by its pre-teen mental state would swap to whatever name seemed coolest on a regular basis.
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    • Keep it simple: assume one is coded "A" and the other is coded by the Greek letter alpha. Amity can be alpha, as it's a curvy letter and Abnegation is the more straight-laced bunch.
    • The meta reason is that if you put the six faction initials together, it spells out 'FACADE'. Possibly the Bureau put it in as a clue.
  • Since the point of the faction system was ultimately to create Divergents, with people entering the community legally obligated to have children, what happened to children born to Factionless parents? Certainly the Bureau would WANT people to pass on their genes with the hope of creating more Divergents, but nowhere in the stories is this seemingly addressed.
    • Maybe the children that are born to Factionless parents are expected to be given up for adoption at birth.
    • Let's begin by characterizing each faction by their primary positive quality: intelligence, obedience, community, honesty, and whatever Amity is supposed to represent. The result is that each faction is, generally, one-dimensional in terms of that attribute which is generally considered "good" (we want everyone to be smarter, and to care more for others, and to be more honest, etc). If you fail to possess any such "positive qualities" or "goodness", the defining trait of the Factionless, then the Bureau would see you as "bad" and clearly NOT want you to propagate your "badness". If, however, you have multiple of these "positive traits" (which automatically makes you a Divergent) then the Bureau would want you to propagate your "goodness"...but not with "Factionless" because any "good" you might bring to the table could be "undone" by their inherent "bad".
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    • In the movie at least we don't see any Factionless children at the choosing ceremony. So we could assume that children of Factionless parents remain there. Or perhaps Abnegation have a department where the Factionless children are taken care of and they do the ceremony as Abnegation children.
    • Or maybe one of the services that Abnegation provides for the Factionless is birth control, either offered openly on the grounds that "Your lives are hard enough, but you can spare innocent children from enduring that hardship", or covertly by drugging the food distributed to Factionless adults. The books don't mention this to avoid annoying the Moral Guardians.
  • How was Peter even able to complete a Heel–Face Turn via memory loss? Every single thing he does in all three books just reeks of Ambiguous Disorder, probably related to psychopathy in some way. If there's truly a mental illness at play here, which there almost certainly is, then just wiping his brain of memory alone and not altering anything else shouldn't have done jack to solve that problem in any way. Should we just assume that said disorder was caused solely by a traumatic memory, and nothing else? Because if that's the case, then there was certainly nothing in the book that hinted at it. Not to be the Erudite here, but sometimes your life choices are overruled by genetics, you know.
    • The epilogue tells us that some of his Jerkass behavior came back.
    • Except Pyschopathy has definite environmental factors which wiping his memory would negate. Especially as a lack of empathy is is mentioned as Candor's main flaw and is probably Peter's as well. Peter's lack of a reaction to his father's death suggest dysfunction there and his father is described a "overbearing" at one point. Four wonders about Peter's family his novel and I always thought that was part of why he seemed to have more patience with Peter than the others did. I don't think Peter was physically abused but emotional abuse and being a "Well Done, Son!" Guy would explain a lot. Even psychopaths aren't born knowing how to dominate and control the way Peter does they have to be taught how. Peter is probably supposed to be someone who is low in mirror neurons as they are what makes Tris special. His social skills are a rather mixed bag and he doesn't read people very well at all which would be a mirror neuron issue. Plus he missing the issues with authority(His most consistent and respectful relationship is with Four) and rebelling against society that are a part psychopathic behavior. Although that might be due the authors lack of understanding of these issues. The way Marcus is characterized is rather simplistic as well. In any case its not like this is any kind of official punishment its something Peter and Four decided on their own. Four has No Social Skills on a good day and only sort of understands his own emotions let alone someone elses. It makes sense for Four as character to want to believe forgetting your past would make you a better person. Also his update seems to suggest he kept on eye on him and made sure he didn't hurt anybody else. Which would also be in keeping with Four's character.
  • Why are Amity and Abnegation separate factions? Selflessness and kindness are closely related, after all. Really, the biggest difference between them is that the Abnegation seem to be against happiness of any kind, whereas the Amity revel in it.
    • Amity is passive, while Abnegation is active. Also, one of Abnegation's goals is to remove self-indulgence and vanity, which Amity is fond of.
    • Also, Amity seems to only promote kindness because Good Feels Good. Abnegation treats kindness as a Self-Imposed Challenge and demands much greater self-discipline.
    • For that matter, how different are Dauntless and Abnegation, really? Both demand self-discipline, a willingness to sacrifice one's own welfare for others, and uncomplaining obedience to authority. Is there really that much of a qualitative difference between the courage to risk injury in combat and the courage to endure others' taunts and a coldly-ascetic lifestyle? It really only seems to be training and Dauntless's occasional willingness to party that sets them apart.
  • When the Bureau sent Natalie to infiltrate the city, one suggested faction choice was Candor. Does that seem right? You have a person who's trying to keep the biggest imaginable secret, and you think putting that person in a group of living lie detectors is a good option?
    • If Natalie could resist the truth serum like Tris then passing Candor initiation would remove all suspicion of her being involved with anything outside the city. Considering Tris is the only one who is shown to be able to resist the Candor serum it's a big if but it's something.
  • In the first book, while Tris is waiting for her test to be administered, we are told that faction customs dictate even idle behavior, and then everyone is acting exactly the way they are told to — the Erudite study, the Amity play games, the Candor have debates, and the Abnegation just ... sit. (What do the Dauntless do again?) This frankly seems like a load of BS. These are teenagers. How do none of them rebel, or generally just not act the way they're supposed to? Don't any of them try to mimic the faction they want to transfer to? Boy, the psychology and worldbuilding in this series have some serious issues.
    • The book does say that the factions have ways of inducing everyone's personality traits. Amity for example have gas that makes everyone peaceful. Candor initiates have to be injected with truth serum. Not sure if that all applies to the children born to their factions but it's a possibility.
    • Peer pressure, probably. The kids waiting for their tests know they're being watched by their peers within their own faction, not to mention the members of other factions whom they'd want to set an example for (Abnegation, the authority-caste at the time) or impress (everybody else). Not to mention that the Erudites, at least, probably catch on that the adults who administer the test would be watching them even before the actual procedure, and all it'll take is for one Candor to overhear some Erudites discussing that possibility for every teenager in the room to hear it blurted out.
  • Okay, it's been a while since I read this part, but if I remember it correctly the test to determine which faction that suited you the best began with letting you choose between a cheese and a knife. How's that supposed to work, exactly? You're not given any kind of context for the choice, so you don't know which one will come in most handy. It doesn't seem like your motivation for picking one matters either, even though it should. There's a big difference between picking a knife because you want to make sure it doesn't get used to cut people, and picking it so you have something to cut people with. And what if you chose the knife just because you don't like the taste of cheese? Are we supposed to believe that you can judge a person's entire personality by their opinion of cheese?
    • Sounds like an Erudite response. Try to get as much information as possible.
    • So what happens if you pick up the knife just so you have something to cut the cheese with?
    • You know what - picking cheese is actually a stupid choice! It'll spoil, or you'll eat it, or give/trade it away, and you stay with nothing. A knife is a multi-use tool, good for cutting all sorts of things. You could use it to build shelter, obtain and prepare food, and so on, and so forth. And it lasts. This tests looks like it's actually supposed to check for foresight and planning skills, or lack thereof.
    • What if you pick the cheese simply because you're hungry?
    • Or if you pick up the cheese so you could potentially give it to somebody else in need (an Abnegation's act of charity), versus if you pick it up because you know a lot of cheese recipes and want to check if this is one you know (an Amity farm kid's choice)?
  • Dauntless can't seem to differentiate between bravery and outright stupidity. A lot of the stunts that they pull must get people killed occasionally (even professional stuntmen and women miss their marks from time to time). Al was absolutely right when he refused to retrieve his knives during the knife throwing scene. Doing so would have likely gotten him an unnecessary injury that would have ruined his chances of advancement in the long run. Yet this gets him singled out as a coward. Do the Dauntless just have no self-preservation instincts?
    • You just hit the nail on the head. One could argue that the defining characteristic of the Dauntless is precisely that they confront any and all problems head-on, without forethought or subtlety, which would likely be seen as Erudite virtues. A true Dauntless, generally speaking, should always be willing to enter a dangerous situation to accomplish a goal, even if there is risk of personal injury or death.
    • Four's and Eric's comments on the old/new rules of Dauntless (teamwork used to be a priority, tapping out in fights used to be acceptable) as well as the purpose of the Chasm (demonstrate the line between bravery and stupidity) indicate that Dauntless used to be different, but generations of Flanderization resulted in the broken version of Dauntless that you see now, just like it did for the other factions.
    • And Eric was probably just being a dick. But the key thing to think of is not the fact that Al wouldn't retrieve the knife - but disobeyed a direct order. In any military organisation (which Dauntless sort of is) the chain of command is important, and disobeying a direct order from a superior is to be punished. Al was ordered to retrieve his knife, so he could have crawled across the floor to get it or thought of a different way other than running across amid other people throwing knives. Al is just a grunt. It's not his place to question his orders until he gets promoted.
  • Such a minor thing, but at several times throughout the series someone is described as wearing black Candor, for instance, pants. How would people tell the difference between black Candor clothes and black Dauntless clothes? There may be some general guidelines, but both factions are described as having several different styles of clothing.
    • Candor clothing is presumably more businesslike than Dauntless's solider/punk style. Black Candor pants would be slacks, while black Dauntless pants would be cargos or something.
    • The book mentions somewhere that Candor frequently wear black-and-white together, symbolizing their belief that the truth is black and white. "Candor Black" could just be shorthand for that.
    • Candor may have three variants on their black-and-white motif: "Candor black" (black with white trim), "Candor white" (vice versa), and just plain "Candor" (fifty-fifty mix).
  • Will somebody please tell me why Tris is such a bitch for not forgiving Al? He tried to kill her. Screw 'he was scared' 'they pressured him into it' 'he tried to apologize'. He tried to KILL her! If you think about it it's really giving off Unfortunate Implications. If she did forgive him, it would have been like a textbook abusive relationship. "I'm sorry honey. I've just been so stressed out. It's your fault I did it to you anyway. You know people will think it's your fault we broke up. Forgive me?" Am I the only one who sees it this way?
    • You're not the only one who sees it that way at all. One thing I find this series does well is making you understand why people do what they do. It acknowledges that both options are equally viable - forgive Al because "he was scared/pressured/stressed/etc", or don't forgive Al because he tried to kill her - and then when Tris chooses to not forgive him, it's very understandable why even if you don't agree with it.
    • It's not so much that she's a bitch for not forgiving him as that it goes against what she was taught growing up in Abnegation. Her mother always taught her to consider why people did horrible things and show them leniency, so her refusal to forgive him is a violation of that principle. However, as said above, it is still a valid response to his actions.
    • And the angst seems to come from him killing himself after she rejected him. While she was perfectly justified in rejecting him, he still died directly afterwards - possibly out of guilt for what he'd done as well as fear. Tris is feeling survivor's guilt over the fact that he died. Even though she had to kill Will too, she still feels remorse for it. Such neat happy resolutions aren't found in real life. Even if there's a justified reason, that still doesn't stop people from feeling guilt over it.
    • Abnegation also teaches to see things from the other person's point of view. Tris may wonder what she might have done, as she was close to being cut as well. Could she see herself giving into her fears and offing the competition if she had to? And if she did, would she want forgiveness from her friends too?
    • Two things. First, deep down, you know you'd want forgiveness if you were in his place. Forgiveness isn't necessarily the same as mercy, and I wouldn't ask for mercy, I'd expect to be punished. But he doesn't get that chance. Instead, he has to live with his guilt, which apparently was too much for him. Which brings us to the second point: Tris' damnation leads to his suicide. If someone else had shot or killed him, she wouldn't have felt a thing about it, but his suicide demonstrates that he was probably sincere about his apology, and how he got involved with the attackers. Had she forgiven him, they might eventually have gotten past it, and now they never will.
  • In the second film, how is the Erudite Divergent detector able to express degrees of Divergence (Example: It rates Tris as "100 percent Divergent")? Divergence is established as a combination of the other five traits, rather than a trait in itself, so how do you even calculate "X percent Divergent?" Shouldn't the result be rendered as the degree to which each of the other five is present? And for that matter, how do you quantify the degree to which particular personality traits exist in order to calculate a percentage in the first place? We're talking about an abstract concept here, something that has no physical presence or numerical attributes associated with it.
    • Well this particular thing wasn't in the book, and it was invented for the film. I'm guessing Tris got a high rating because she had gone through Dauntless training, passed their tests (I can't remember if it's said that the other factions require tests too) and also gone through a lot of Character Development.
    • The film sort of dropped the ball on what passed for an underlying theme in the book, though: the categories all being pretty much nonsense that each faction found a different (and usually mutually-contradictory) way to justify for themselves was sort of a big deal, and the experiment the underlying conspiracy was running was to see how long it took people raised with an intentionally ridiculous system as "tradition" to figure it out (it was implied that they weren't expecting it to last for generations as it did). For the Erudite, they justify the system by the (false) impression that they're more technically inclined and logical than everyone else, so assigning entirely meaningless percentile values to a meaningless abstraction is them being in-character.
  • Pardon a query from someone who only saw the films, but how come Abnegation's leaders never took pains to debunk the nasty rumors about their faction hoarding resources for themselves? They'd certainly know such allegations were being made, because Candor comes out and says what they're thinking to everyone's face, and they'd be obligated under their own ethics to do so: it'd help their fellow Abnegation by sparing them from baseless accusations, and likewise help the other factions by easing their fears about corruption within the government. Truth serum can't be unknown to Abnegation's leaders - it's used in the legal system and by a faction that doesn't believe in hiding facts - so they could easily have stopped the rumors by voluntarily letting themselves be questioned about resource-hoarding under its influence. So why don't they publically offer Erudite and Candor the chance to jointly, scientifically, and openly test Abnegation's resource-allocation officers under the truth serum's effects, and disprove the allegations once and for all? With anyone else, it'd be an affront to personal dignity to forfeit one's privacy and be subjected to such public scrutiny, but Abnegation aren't supposed to have personal dignity or pride.
    • Some of the rumours being spread are actually true - although it's explained slightly better in the prequel novel. Eric knows that Four is Marcus Eaton's son, and guesses that Marcus was abusive. As he's the sneak for Jeanine, it's that little nugget of information that really starts Erudite on their smear campaign. It's also explained that Marcus is very concerned with his public image, and has a lot of his colleagues working to make sure he appears like a squeaky-clean do-gooder. So the reason Marcus doesn't do this is because he doesn't want his actual dirty laundry being confirmed. You'll notice when the Priors are discussing it, Andrew and Natalie seem to think that the abuse allegations are just lies. Abnegation is still pretty corrupt too, since Evelyn runs away and they cover it up as her dying rather than tarnish Marcus's image. Abnegation seemed to think that if they just ignore the rumours - which dog most politicians - the public will too. The saying "the best way to respond to stupidity is to ignore it" comes into play, and Abnegation look as if taking the high road would be the better option. They don't know that Jeanine is planning to mind control the Dauntless into mass genocide.
  • In the books, did Jeanine know about the experiment? It's clear in the films she never knew and when she found the secret of the box was entirely different from what expected. But how much does she know in the books? Was she trying to figure out the secret Abnegation was keeping from everyone? Or did she know all along that they were all rats in a lab maze and wanted to destroy the evidence so that no one else would ever know?